Sam Thornton Jr. (b. 1938)  My testament to God's mercy and blessing in my life.

    "For many years my bible was safely stored away among some hymnals and a few other books which, along with the bible, I seldom opened. Now my bible is not just a book, but is the source of my spiritual life. It is the message of Christ to me, given by God. It is 'Christ himself, in written form'!  Accept the blessings of God made freely available to you, and me, by reading the scripture."

Romans 15:4  (AMP)  For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.

On March 4, 2014, in answer to a Christian friend, I put down a few lines of testimony. It is a short acknowledgment of my failure to make Christ the Lord of my life and how He drew me back into fellowship with Him. Finally, I relized and accepted the fact that I was .....

I was born January 24, 1938 into a missionary family while living in Missouri. I was the sixth child in a family of ten. My earliest ‘family’ memory is that every morning we enjoyed fellowship with God - praising Him in song, reading His Word, and praying. Unlike many who recall a specific occasion when saved, I do not know the date when I accepted Christ as my Savior, but I am certain of the fact. When fully aware that my conscience was developing due to the action of the Holy Spirit in changing my attitude, I made a public statement to that fact in water baptism. A few years back I had occasion to visit the location on the river where I was immersed as a teenager.

With my parents I moved to Illinois and, believing that happiness could not be found on flat land without abundant flowing fresh water, I found instead, what I had always dreamed of – farming. I was able to find work wherever I chose, and God blessed me in ways that I did not appreciate at the time. My missionary parents were now the pastor/pianist of a small congregation which demanded they teach school and give piano lessons for their livelihood.

God blessed me by making it possible for me to enter my preferred vocation after being told by the banking community that, “unless your father was a farmer – or had a lot of money – you would not be able to farm”. After hearing that from the FHA agent and, after dad and I got over laughing about “not having a lot of money”, dad reaffirmed in me the fact that our Heavenly Father is not limited by the ‘economic’s of man’ and, if it was His will that I should be a farmer, it would be.

Now, I realize that the things that seem to be ‘insurmountable’ in the mind of man were already addressed and resolved by Him before the world began. God had prepared the heart of a dear lady to trust in me when I asked if she would consider renting her farm to me. As time went on, with His additional blessing, we rented an adequate amount of farmland which, along with some off farm income, provided us with a comfortable living.

With all these blessings God had granted to me, I became complacent (self satisfied) and, in that state, Christ was no longer the ‘Lord’ of my life. I had lost my spiritual equilibrium and had inverted the spiritual values I was taught as a child. Knowing my life was a lie I resigned as an officer of our small church and no longer honored God in fellowship with those believers. Thank God, my wife continued attending church with our children. In time the sin in my life led to divorce.

James 1:13-15   (AMP)   Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.  (death - separation from God)

During my second marriage, we attended a rural church pastored by Rev. "Pete” Olroyd. Under his influence my wife accepted Christ as her Savior. Although I rejoiced in the fact that her eternal life was secure in Him, I continued to follow a life of sin, distancing myself from true fellowship with God. Again my sinful life lead to our divorce.   

Through all this, God continued to bless me. I watched as other friends found Christ as their personal Savior, while I continued to follow the desire of the flesh. At times I thought I could help others see the light, while I was happy to remain in the darkness. In one such effort I was rightly referred to as being a ‘bible carrying hypocrite’.  I was willfully going my own way and as a result was experiencing problems that were of my own making. The Holy Spirit was permitting me to make a mess of the life I had made for myself - without God!

When my nephew published a ‘bible reading plan’ that he had digitized, I began reading God’s Word again, on a regular basis.

For a few years I refused to admit what the Spirit of God was showing me from the Word. When I finally accepted the fact that my separation from God was an insult to our Savior and had eternal consequence, I began asking His forgiveness and praying that I might again enjoy complete fellowship with Him.

The local congregation that I had walked away from, now a non denominational body, was the obvious choice where I could reestablish my walk with God. I first began attending the Wednesday evening bible study and in a few weeks began attending the Sunday services. You would not believe the times I broke out in tears when the words of a hymn spoke to the power and glory of our Lord and Savior.

As the weeks passed I felt the need to make a statement to my life of sin and my status as a child of God by confessing publicly. At this period the church had no time dedicated to personal testimony, but God permitting, I could take a moment during the “prayer request” portion of the morning service and “confess that I had not permitted Christ to be the Lord of my life due to my selfishness and sinful nature.”  And so it was – God gave the opportunity and enabled me to state that: “by the grace of God, the sins of my life are forgiven and this confession is made to assure that nothing will stand in the way of my fellowship with God and with this body of believers”.

Romans 10:10  “ For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

It was God’s plan and it was the power of the Word that drew me back to Christ! The effectual prayer of the saints, their testimony & concern for my spiritual welfare directed my thought and action. God knew, even before He formed the earth, that I would be taught from the Word as a youth, that Saints would pray on my behalf, and that I would have Christian friends. My salvation was a gift from God, not by anything that I had done. Now I am beginning to appreciate the abundance of God’s mercy.

Ephesians 2:8    For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

God continues to bless me beyond what I deserve because I am His child! (there is nothing I can do to deserve His blessing). He has granted me good health, which I am enjoying for the short haul. The real joy, for the long haul, comes when I consider God’s gift of forgiveness, His promise of fellowship to those who obey Him while here on earth, and the hope of eternal life in His presence!

Titus 1:2   (AMP)  He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He poured out [so] richly upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.  [And He did it in order] that we might be justified by His grace (by His favor, wholly undeserved), [that we might be acknowledged and counted as conformed to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action], and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.

My wife retired December 31, 2013 (after 30+ years with the County Health Department). We now are spending many hours together and God is blessing in this also. We are looking forward to moderate weather in order to spend time outdoors. At times, when I do not go out, Susie attends church alone and returns with the “good news” of that day. What a blessing she is, and I thank God for her!

Now, my prayer, taken from Psalm 139: 23-24 is:      “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Keep me in your prayers!